Kalamazoo and Plainwell
My husband's family farm is right outside of Kalamazoo in Plainwell, MI so I have had the fortune to visit the area a few times. Joe lived in Plainwell with his aunt and grandparents for a while when he was young. Today, his uncle Tom and wife Sally have a house on the farmland.
"History of Kalamazoo"
The city of Kalamazoo began as a gift to the United States. The land which today is Kalamazoo served as a fur trading post in the late 1700s. The area was deeded to the U.S. by the Potawatomi Indians in 1827, and in 1829 permanent settlers began arriving, led by Titus Bronson. When the town was platted in 1831, it was called "Bronson" after its leader. But Bronson was considered an eccentric and argumentative man, and two years after founding the village and naming it after himself, he was accused, tried, and convicted of stealing a cherry tree. Villagers petitioned for a name change, so by the time Michigan was admitted to the Union on January 26, 1837, Bronson had been renamed Kalamazoo.
The name is derived from a Potawatomi Indian expression, "Kikalamazoo," meaning "the rapids at the river crossing," or "boiling water." Intrigued by the name, many poets, authors and songwriters have penned Kalamazoo into their works, the most notable of which may be Glenn Miller's I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo. In the early 1900s, three ships were also christened Kalamazoo.
Historically, the city has been referred to by many names. It's been called "The Paper City," for its many paper and cardboard mills; "The Celery City," after the crop once grown in the muck fields north, south, and east of town; and "The Mall City," after construction of the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the United States in 1959. The fertile soil on which Kalamazoo is built has led the area to most recently be called the "Bedding Plant Capital of the World," as the county is home to the largest bedding plant cooperative in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of plants, many varieties of which are displayed throughout the county's parks and boulevards, are sold each year to home gardeners and landscapers nationwide.